America’s largest evangelical prison ministry organization, Prison Fellowship, recently partnered with Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute to create new daily devotionals to be distributed to over 100,000 inmates across the United States.
The two 120-day devotionals, which are based on Moody’s Today in the Word daily devotional, contain readings on all four holy Bible gospels and include Bible studies, discussion questions and a series of Christian testimonies from previously incarcerated Christians who found God while in prison. While one devotional is crafted for incarcerated men, the other is geared for incarcerated women.
The partnership has been described as one of the largest outreach efforts in Prison Fellowship’s 45-year history. Prison Fellowship chaplains began distributing the Bibles to inmates on July 1.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with Moody Bible Institute and we cannot wait to see so many lives changed through these devotionals,” Prison Fellowship Vice President of Field Programs Dan Kingery told The Christian Post.
The devotionals are handheld books written by professors and staff of Moody Bible Institute, an evangelical Bible college with campuses in Illinois, Michigan and Washington state. The books have been ordered by many prisons throughout the U.S. They will be distributed to inmates who choose to receive copies.
The women’s devotional differs from the men’s devotional because it contains chapters that focus on how to heal after facing trauma. Both devotionals encourage incarcerated individuals to lead Bible-centered and goal-oriented lives.
“Many women have suffered tremendous trauma who are in prisons, and men and women go through different walks and experiences in prison,” Kingery, 60, said. “So, we wanted to create two devotionals specifically designed to pinpoint key issues each gender primarily faces. And we hope these books remind both men and women that Jesus is there and that Jesus has extended an invitation that says, ‘Come to me if you are weary and need help.’”
Kingery said that people in prison face the “same kinds of spiritual struggles” that people outside prison face. However, the spiritual struggles “may be heightened for inmates” due to a lack of access to friends and family and having no alone time.
He added that while inmates are often in very crowded prisons, they can feel very lonely because they are not near their close friends or family.
The mission of Prison Fellowship is to restore those impacted by crime and incarceration.
“It’s not like the people who are in prisons can just go to get a coffee with their best friends or see their family members or relatives,” Kingery said. “We want to encourage those in prisons to have the pattern of thinking daily about what they think about. And we hope to encourage them to think about what the truth is, where the truth comes from. And this will then allow them to apply truth to their everyday thinking and actions.”
Jamie Janosz, managing editor of Today in the Word, who helped write the devotionals, said she has always had a heart for men and women in prison.
Employed at Moody Bible Institute for 31 years, she said she was naturally inclined to participate in creating a devotional. Janosz hopes the books will bless many.
Seeing the completed devotional is a dream come true, she said, because it’s been her dream since childhood to play a role in teaching others about the love of Jesus and find hope in Jesus.
“The bigger picture is to show others how the word of God is applicable to their daily lives, and to show those in prisons how to read a scripture passage and reflect and pray while modeling what it looks like to live out a Gospel-centered life through the testimonies in the books,” Janosz detailed. “We wanted to make the devotionals understandable for the inmates so they could live out what they read.”
Sam Choy, the five-year chief marketing officer at Moody Bible Institute, stressed that the Gospel should be available to “every person” and that “folks that are in prison should be no different.”
“We are proud of how many people we know will be blessed by these two devotionals and we have been blessed to work alongside Prison Fellowship,” Choy stated.